My background includes a type of psychotherapy that resulted in a practice of educating, counseling, mentoring and consulting over some 43 years. My training was focused on client-centered change that I began in the early seventies, much of it based on Rogers, Maslow and Perls. One thing that I learned was that regardless of the orientation or training, the three variables that accounted for positive change in an individual or an organization were empathy, genuineness and warmth from the practitioner. I believe that extends to therapist, counselor, consultant, mentor, coach or leader.
For a succinct history of coaching the following link outlines the beginnings and the evolution of coaching over some eighty plus years. You can easily see how coaching grew out of earlier concepts and practices:
By making coaching desirable and perhaps less onerous than therapy, counseling, consulting or mentoring, coaching has become enormously popular. Therapy and counseling also suggest that there is a need that deserves attention, or at the least, changed for the better. Coaching is in the same category and I do not call it a softer approach because it is real work and has a positive impact on people and organizations.
If you combine the definitions of coaching they boil down to the one major component and that one defining variable is change. That can be a complex and challenging process. It is easier if positive change is desired and the motivation to change is firmly in place. That is not to say that all will be smooth sailing because as you get to the heart of the matter there are bound to be some unanticipated bumps in the road. And, since change is inevitable, why not plan for it as best you can?
In most psychotherapy practices the client initiates the contact so coaching is not distinct in that regard. Coaching may not be as distinctive as some believe it to be although I understand the desire to create a separate and different application.
With regard to consulting and mentoring I have a similar response. I find the practices of psychotherapy, coaching, counseling, consulting and mentoring more similar than different although there are minor distinctions among them and one approach doesn’t work for everyone. The good part is that all are intended to help people remove obstacles and enjoy a positive, productive and fulfilling life.
It takes some courage or confidence to start making plans to create something new and different. This is when a life coach can be enormously helpful in designing the changes you want to see in your life.